Connector Bridge
Schuylkill River Parks

Please scroll down for background and history

SRP Connector Bridge

Saturday, October 20, 2012

SRP Connector Bridge

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Permanent Dog Runs Open

August 2012

Over the next week or so Rockport will near completion of the new and improved dog run in Schuylkill River Park. As mentioned previously, very soon after Labor Day the current temporary dog run will close and the new dog run will open. Signs will be posted once we know the actual day of the opening and closing; we will additionally send out an email.

July 2012

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel! As you can see, the contractor has been making very good progress with the project. The prefabricated bridge over the CSX Railroad tracks has been erected. It arrived on the site and was set in place with little interruption to the neighborhood. Its concrete deck was poured in place soon afterwards.

Inside the Park, the contractor has removed the excess excavated material. They have also completed the curbing, grading, pavers, and the serpentine sitting wall inside the permanent dog run. The contractor will install the mesh panels inside the bridge truss, and continue to work throughout the Park installing the paving blocks on the walkways, re-grading the bowl, and improving other Park amenities. In these final months we should be seeing physical improvements daily as we can watch the railings installed for the ramps, the proposed lighting fixtures located, the dog turf to be set, the benches placed, and the final landscaping planted.

With the mild winter and the great coordination of the contractor and the City, the project seems to be coming together sooner than anyone expected. Official opening ceremonies for the connector bridge will take place on October 20, 2012 at 1pm. We will post more information as it becomes available.

May 3, 2012
Bridge Span Installed

Connector Bridge

Youtube Video

April 2012

SRP Connector Bridge

SRP Connector Bridge

SRP Connector Bridge

March 2012

The overall pedestrian bridge project is still on schedule with an anticipated completion at the end of fall 2012. The contractor has placed the concrete decks on both sides of the railroad, as well they have completed the installation of the lower ramp retaining walls on the river side. The contractor continues to install the lower ramp retaining walls on the park side next to the basketball courts. They will continue to place formwork atop these walls. Once the formwork is installed expect the contractor to place the concrete for the coping and ramp sidewalks. The contractor will also start excavation for the serpentine walls in the proposed dog park. The electrical subcontractor will install light pole foundations throughout the park, including those located near the community garden.

The bridge is the next step. It is being fabricated offsite but the contractor expects to see it delivered and erected by the middle or late April. If we hear of the specific plans for the bridge delivery and what-if anything-to expect in the neighborhood we will keep you informed. Typically the bridge route is carefully planned with special hauling permits approved by the city, police escort, and it usually happens during off-peak hours.

December 2011

The overall pedestrian bridge project is still on schedule with an anticipated completion at the end of fall 2012. As you can see at the Park, the contractor has completed all of the concrete columns on both sides of the train tracks as well as the concrete ramp on the river side. After the concrete cures at the ramp, the contractor will remove the formwork below the deck. They will move to the Park side to install the formwork needed to support the construction of the concrete deck for the ramp around the Dog Run. The ramp's concrete will be poured and it will need to cure. After the ramp is finished on the Park side, the contractor will be ready to install the bridge over the tracks!

September 2011

It is easy to see the amount of disruption the Pedestrian Bridge is causing to our Park. Though it is interesting to watch from afar we recognize that the usable area in our Park is significantly reduced for active and passive activities. We love our Park as much as you do and it is difficult to see how strained this wonderful resource is during the construction. We appreciate the patience of all the Park users as the work continues.

The good news is the Pedestrian Bridge is currently on schedule. Despite the slight speed bump at the beginning with the reconfiguring of the staging area the contractor is still on schedule to be completed by the end of the Fall 2012. The recent flooding along the Schuylkill River did not slow the contractor down. Despite the damage upriver the flood waters did not rise above the top of the bulkhead in the project area. The severity of the winter season may determine how well the project remains on schedule. So far the contractor has installed the proposed caisson foundations on both sides of the railroad. They are now constructing the piers and columns that will support the ramps and the bridge. After the piers are installed the contractor is hoping to erect the bridge over the railroad tracks. Stay tuned!

September 2011 Dog Run Update

The Friends of Schuylkill River Park would like to express our deepest appreciation to all Schuylkill River Park users for your patience and understanding during construction of the pedestrian bridge that connects Schuylkill River Park to Schuylkill Banks. This project, managed by the City of Philadelphia via the Streets Department and the Department of Parks & Recreation, is currently on schedule for completion in late 2012. The project will bring a number of enhancements to Schuylkill River Park, including new lighting throughout the Park, an irrigation system, new trees, new shrubs, 2,000 perennials, revitalized turf, new pathways, and an improved and expanded dog run.

As part of the dog run improvements, the Department of Parks & Recreation has decided to apply K9 Grass to the dog run areas. This decision was made through a transparent public process that included several community partners as well as the public at large. K9 Grass is a well-established revolutionary turf constructed from soy (plant based) materials and nylon designed specifically for dogs that has received rave reviews for durability, safety, and response by our canine friends (they love it!) from the many other dog runs in which it has been used. The turf addresses a number of concerns dog run users have expressed regarding other surface materials, including the dust and paw stress from quarry fines and decomposed granite, the mud and fungal problems from mulch and wood chips, the flea and pooling problems from pebbles, and the inability to grow natural grass in such a heavy use urban park. K9 Grass is cooler than the asphalt and cement dogs walk on during a hot day, drains water to the surface below, does not contain lead or any other heavy metal, is smooth on dogs paws, and is as easy as any other surface to clean. Below are some photos of the dramatic transformation K9 Grass has made to other Dog Runs across the country (more photos available here).

Before FSRP After FSRP
Before K-9 GrassAfter K-9 Grass

We are extremely fortunate to have K9 Grass coming to Schuylkill River Park and would like to use this opportunity to provide the linked packet that Michael DiBerardinis, Parks & Recreation Commissioner, has prepared to address inaccuracies promulgated regarding the product. More information can be obtained from the K9 Grass website, the K9 Grass safety page, and the Schuylkill River Park Dog Run website.

Once again, we appreciate your continued support and are very excited that the Department of Parks and Recreation has decided to provide the best dog run surface available for our canine friends and family members.

Perspective Drawings

Planting system Revised 6-29-11

Monday June 27, 2011
Public Meeting

Community Meeting Handout 1
Community Meeting Handout 2

June 2011

The Pedestrian Bridge will span from Schuylkill Banks over the railroad tracks into Schuylkill River Park. The bridge is the result of a Federal Court settlement between the City of Philadelphia and CSX Railroad. Construction will begin on June 28, 2011 and end in October 2012. The Friends of Schuylkill River Park is helping to facilitate communication between the agencies responsible for the project and the community; we are neither the originators of the idea nor the managers of the Project. The project is managed by the Philadelphia Streets Department, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC), and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The bridge will span several hundred feet and is being delivered in a pre-fabricated form to the Schuylkill River Park side of the crossing, thus necessitating the removal of several trees in Schuylkill River Park to facilitate the entry and storage of the pre-fabricated sections and the closing of some sections of the Park during construction. The existing dog run will be closed during the project to facilitate bridge construction in the rear of the dog run adjacent to the CSX Tracks, but a temporary dog run will be installed on 25th Street to accommodate dogs during the closing. Once the bridge is complete, the Park will be restored and enhanced as part of the project, including new park paving, benches, trash receptacles, an improved Dog Run, new lighting throughout the Park, an irrigation system, new trees and shrubs, and revitalized turf.

There will be a public meeting run by the Streets Department, Parks and Recreation, and the Schuylkill River Development Corporation to discuss the construction process on June 27, 2011 at 7pm in the Trinity Center for Urban Life (22nd and Spruce) with construction to begin the following day. The contact email for the project is or you may post comments at

Schuylkill River Parks
Connector Bridge

Public Meeting - Please join us

Monday June 27, 2011

Trinity Center for Urban Life
22nd & Spruce Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19103

The purpose of this meeting is to refresh the community about the project, introduce the construction team and talk about the schedule.

Users want more say in expansion plan, by Inga Saffron

March 2011

Connector Bridge Status-What's Going On?

If you have been using us to update you on the status of the Connector Bridge Overpass for the last year, you know we keep telling you it is going to start-while nothing seems to change. It will happen, but not as soon as anyone thought.

The latest news is that unforeseen underground conditions on the Schuylkill Banks side of the railroad tracks have caused the design consultants to revise the structural footings for the ramp and bridge. This change has set back the construction schedule. The SRDC plans for the project to be advertised for bids in May, 2011. The bids will be delivered, contracts negotiated, and a Notice to Proceed will most likely happen in June. Construction could take a year or more depending on the winter weather. The Pedestrian Bridge could be opened by the end of the summer 2012. The City will soon start construction of the at-grade crossings at Race Street and Locust Street that will allown CSX to lock gates when a train is in the crossing.

There is news on other physical improvements close to the Park, courtesy of the SRDC. The Walnut Street Bridge Enhancement Work will start this summer, too, and last until the spring of 2012. It is meant to encourage traffic calming. The changes will include reducing the number of travel lanes on the structure from 4 to 3 as well as widening the sidewalks. They also include replacement of overhead signs with parapet mounted signs, replacement of the cobra head high lights with Center City District lights, and pergolas at the stairs to Schuylkill Banks.

The continuation of the river park will proceed as a boardwalk. Because of the limited land between the CSX rail tracks and the River's edge from Locust Street to South Street, a 2,050' long, 17' wide structure will be erected along the east bank of the River. Connections to the land will be made at Locust Street and just south of the South Street Bridge. This project won't start until autumn of this year and will take more than 2 years to complete.

November 2010

What with the momentous South Street Bridge opening this fall, returning vehicle traffic onto South Street and providing a great connection to West Philly, we can be forgiven for forgetting about our pedestrian bridge over the CSX railroad tracks. But don't imagine that this has disappeared, it is still coming! The new schedule from the SRDC is for the project to be advertised for bids in February, 2011. Next the bids will be delivered, contracts negotiated, and a Notice To Proceed will most likely be given in April. Construction could take at least a year, depending on the weather, which means it could be opened in the spring, 2012. (But don't be surprised if this schedule should slip even more as the time approaches.) The only bright spot is that the playing field will probably be opened by the time the fences go up for the staging area in the 'bowl' that will serve the bridge work.

September 2010

As a reminder to all, this is the Bridge that will cross the CSX railroad tracks connecting Schuylkill Banks directly to Schuylkill River Park. The latest schedule from the SRDC is for the project to be advertised for bids in November. The bids will be opened in December. Contracts will be prepared in the next two months with construction starting in February 2011. The dog run will thus remain open until February 2011.We still expect SRDC will make a public presentation to the neighborhood sometime prior to the start of construction. Construction is expected to take a little over a year but now that length may be challenged by building through two winters so conservatively the bridge would be targeted for opening sometime in the Spring of 2012.

June 2010

The consultants for the SRDC have made their final presentation to the Art Commission and the minor revisions suggested by the Art Commission at the previous meeting were accepted. The SRDC will submit one last time to PENNDOT for their review and comment in the next month or two. It is expected that the bidding on the construction work will occur this summer. Construction will begin this fall. Prior to the start of construction it is expected that the SRDC will make a final public presentation to the neighborhood. Construction is expected to take a little over a year (with a cooperative winter) with the completion of the bridge targeted for January 2012.

March 2010

The latest news is that the consultants for the SRDC are finishing up their drawings for the connector bridge as you read this. There may be one or two meetings with the full Design Committee Team to review the work scope soon afterwards-this spring. The SRDC has requested the meeting with the Art Commission (their second visit) at the beginning of May. They will also submit the drawings to PENNDOT for their review and comment at the beginning of the summer. Tentative schedule is that bidding on the work will occur in July this summer. Construction will start in September 2010. Construction is expected to take a little over a year with the completion of the bridge hopefully in November 2011.

January 2010

The consultants for the SRDC are working on the design drawings for the connector bridge this winter. They intend to meet with the Art Commission to present outstanding design issues at their January or February meeting. The Art Commission posed some questions and concerns at the first meeting (about lighting the bridge and the railing design) that required the SRDC to schedule another meeting. With the Art Commission's approval the SRDC will complete the construction drawings in the spring. The intent is to bid the construction work in March or April. Bids need to come back within budget, the contracts need to be negotiated, and then construction will start. We may see things happening in the park as early as the beginning of the summer.

The first signs that construction will start will be areas in the park will be fenced off as either staging areas (the bowl) that the contractor will use to store materials and equipment, or as construction areas (the large dog run), where the construction will happen. As well, a temporary dog run will be created adjacent to the bowl that will, along with the small dog run, be used while construction is happening in and around the large dog run.

Extra Time to Build the Crossings

On May 7th, 2009 Federal Judge Bruce W. Kauffman granted CSX and the City of Philadelphia an additional 15 months to complete the work required in the settlement agreement that was entered in the court order on May 15, 2007. This means that the two grade crossing improvements must now be finished by July 24, 2010 (originally 2 years from April 24, 2007 plus 15 months) and the connector bridge must be completed by January 24, 2011 (originally 30 months from April 24, 2007 plus 15 months).

Locust and Race Streets Grade Crossings Deadline

April 24, 2009 is the deadline for installation of the at-grade crossings at Locust Street and Race Street. Obviously, construction has not yet begun. While we're disappointed that both the grade crossings and connector bridge are behind schedule, they are moving forward and are in "final design." The City's Streets Department and CSX are negotiating a new deadline extension. We're hopeful that both projects will start sometime in 2009. As soon as we have more information, we will let you know.

Status of the Bridge, December 2008

What's the schedule?

The Design Concept Team is still periodically meeting to keep abreast of the slow progress on the bridge design. First of all the Streets Department has stated that with the Bond Question winning approval on the November ballot the funds for the bridge project have been included in the fiscal year 2009 Capital Program. The City will now go out to borrow the funds. The best case scenario is the project could be bid in the summer of 2009. This will not meet the court ordered schedule for the project but if the City and CSX agree to continue working on the project in a cooperative manner this should not be an issue. The conceptual design has been approved with comments by the Art Commission. And the Fairmount Park Commission has endorsed the design with their own set of comments.

What's it look like?

The latest design for the bridge still shows it coming across the tracks behind the dog runs, travelling along the back fence of the large dog run and turning into the park along the edge of the basketball court. It will end short of the pedestrian path that runs along the basketball courts and dog run. The large dog run will be expanded into the area between the dog run and the basketball court, but the basketball courts will not be impacted. A series of walls, fences and landscape features will be used to enhance the edges of the large dog run and the ramp. The final appearance and the significant details of the ramp are all things that still need to be resolved in the new year.

Latest Design Drawing (pdf)

Fairmount Park Commission Approves Pedestrian Bridge Alignment

At the September 10th Fairmount Park Commission meeting, Joseph Syrnick of Schuylkill River Development Corporation presented the current design of the connector bridge, the same as presented at the June public meeting. The Fairmount Park Commission granted its approval of the conceptual design and will review the final design for approval in the near future. The City is still obligated by the settlement agreement to build the bridge by October 2009, so we hope the design is finalized in a timely manner.

Connector Bridge Community Presentation Well Attended

The June 12th public meeting about the Connector Bridge held at Trinity Center for Urban Life had many interested park users come to learn and ask questions. Schuylkill River Development Corporation and Fairmount Park, along with the engineering consultant HNTB, made a presentation updating the community on the status of the bridge design and spent about an hour answering questions. Look at the slideshow (pdf) presentation and renderings of the bridge below. If you would like to share any thoughts about the current design treatment, please email us at and we will pass your comments along to the rest of the Design Concept Team.

Community Meeting Presentation, June 12, 2008

pdf of the Meeting Handout

Important information to bear in mind about this project:

  • The Engineer for the project is HNTB (
  • The Landscape Architect for the project is Menke & Menke (
  • The bridge will be 12 wide. The Ramps will be 10 wide and about 270 feet in length. The SRP Ramp starts at Elev. 0, proceeds 30 up to Elev. 3.0, turns left for 90 to Elev. 10.0 and finally turns right 150 to the bridge Elev. 22.0.
  • Lighting will be provided under the Ramps and will be maintained by the City.
  • Bid Date To meet the Court Ordered completion date of Oct. 22, 2009, the project will have to be bid before the end of this year.

History of the project below:

Connector Bridge Alignment Determined, January 2008

The design concept team (DCT*) carefully reviewed the comments and ideas from park users, stakeholders and neighbors gathered at last fall's meeting and surveys on the three alternative alignments, and also studied several other potential alternatives that involved structures outside of Schuylkill River Park. Upon this review, the DCT concluded that the "yellow" or "west border" alignment was the most feasible and best met the needs of the project and the community's concerns.

The 'yellow" alignment runs along the western edge of the Schuylkill River Park over the CSX tracks to Schuylkill Banks in a south to north line. This bridge, in addition to serving as an above grade crossing, will provide an access point between the river and Schuylkill Banks to Schuylkill River Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. It will fulfill the original conception of Schuylkill River Park as connecting the city to the riverfront.

Please note that the accompanying picture is only an alignment, not a final design treatment. The engineering firm HNTB will now prepare a preliminary design taking into considerations the public's comments in addition to the features recommended in the 2006 Master Plan developed by Friends of Schuylkill River Park.


We thank everyone who made their voices heard during this process. Your input contributed to making this public engagement process constructive and successful.

*The Design Concept Team consists of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia Streets and Commerce Departments, Friends of Schuylkill River Park, Schuylkill River Park Alliance, Center City Residents Association, University of Pennsylvania, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Pedestrian Bridge to link Schuylkill Banks to Schuylkill River Park

At a public meeting on November 4, 2007, three possible routes for the Connector Bridge were presented to over 120 neighbors. The 3 routes are: the Red Path, the Yellow Path,and the Green Path. Below are 2 images for each of the 3 alignments. The first is an aerial view of the park with the location of the bridge in its designated color. The second is an artists rendering of what the bridge might look like in this location. These are conceptions; nothing has been decided. With neighborhood input from the meeting and from the online survey the designers can refine the plan that best suits the park users and neighbors.

redplan redrend
The Red Path - The Bowl Option

yellowplan yellowrend
The Yellow Path - The West Border Option

greenplan greenrend
The Green Path - The North Border Option

Public Meeting Announcement



In April of 2007, the City signed an agreement with CSX to allow grade-level crossings to access the Schuylkill Banks. One stipulation is that the City provide a pedestrian bridge to access the path near Locust. The Friends of Schuylkill River Park was part of a team that met with three consultants and selected HNTB to do the job. Schuylkill River Development Corporation will now discuss designs and negotiate a fee with the selected consultant for the conceptual stage of the project. Community meetings will be scheduled to ensure that the there is public input in the process. Completion of this phase will allow the project to move into preliminary engineering and Final Design. The City-CSX Agreement deadline for completion of the bridge is Oct 2009.

FSRP · PO Box 30246 · PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103 ·